Trump Spent The Weekend Publicly Attacking His Judge

INSIDE: Tanya Chutkan ... Fani Willis ... Ammon Bundy
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally at Carson City Airport in Carson City, Nevada on October 18, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop.

That didn’t take long.

After U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan made explicit Friday that she will do whatever is necessary to protect the integrity of the proceedings in the Jan. 6 case of U.S. v. Trump, the former president resumed his public attacks on her and her proceedings.

In posts and reposts on his Truth Social platform, Trump impugned Chutkan, her motives, and the proceedings against him. Not surprising or unprecedented to anyone who has paid even a smidge of attention to Trump’s history of acting out in legal matters, but no less damaging or destructive or corrosive to the rule of law.

The latest attack last night:

An earlier repost by Trump from the weekend:

What will be done about it? What can be done about it?

Judge Chutkan can haul him into court and read him the riot act, she can impose further restrictions on his out-of-court statements, and she can ultimately hold him in contempt, even remand him into custody pending trial.

I don’t expect dramatic action from Chutkan immediately for reasons that mostly make sense in this particular moment: she might not want to escalate this fight too quickly but rather leave herself room to ramp up down the road when it might really be needed, she doesn’t want to get bogged down in First Amendment fights over a gag order, she doesn’t want to feed Trump’s narrative of this all being a personal attack on him.

But Trump’s ability to spend 77 years on this planet without being held to real account is largely because each new person he encounters attempts to give him the benefit of the doubt, or to play the long game with him, or makes a transactional calculation to just grin and bear it in order to get what they need out of the interaction.

So we see in this latest round of boundary-setting followed immediately by Trump’s boundary-pushing the pattern that has played out over and over for decades. He can no more break that pattern – which has been marvelously successful for him – than he can stop breathing.

Now, whatever calculation Chutkan makes here and now regarding these statement, I have the sense from reading the accounts of Friday’s hearing that she knows the pattern. She’s no fool. She won’t be played. But she will pick her spots. Is this her spot? I don’t know. But I’ll be watching to see if:

  • Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team brings these posts to her attention formally;
  • Chutkan sua sponte raises them before the next scheduled hearing in the case; or
  • Chutkan waits until the case comes before her again in a scheduled hearing later this month.

Or she may decide to keep her powder dry. But I suspect she and Trump are on a collision course that can’t be avoided indefinitely.

This Is The Week In Georgia

All signals are pointing to a state grand jury indictment tomorrow (Tuesday) in Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis’ long-running investigation of Trump’s interference in her state’s 2020 election. Here’s a good rundown on why we expect indictments tomorrow:

Willis May Have More New Stuff Than We Thought


Atlanta-area prosecutors investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia are in possession of text messages and emails directly connecting members of Donald Trump’s legal team to the early January 2021 voting system breach in Coffee County, sources tell CNN. …

They have gathered evidence indicating it was a top-down push by Trump’s team to access sensitive voting software, according to people familiar with the situation.

Trump Feeling The Pressure?

For good measure, Trump launched a new attack on Fani Willis, too:

Countdown In Atlanta

  • The Guardian: ‘He’s going to be very surprised’: Georgia DA Fani Willis prepares to face off with Trump
  • AP: How Fani Willis oversaw what might be the most sprawling legal case against Donald Trump
  • MSNBC: Online hysterics suggest Trump now expects indictment in Georgia
  • NYT: Two Months in Georgia: How Trump Tried to Overturn the Vote

California Cutting Eastman No Slack

Authorities pursuing the disbarment of Trump coup plotter John Eastman are opposing his request to delay the proceedings. He argues that he’s facing potential criminal charges; they argue that that ain’t new news.

Michigan Watch

Your occasional update on the state-level prosecution of Trump’s fake elector scheme in Michigan:

  • The Messenger: ‘They’re Going to Shoot Someone’: Michigan Republicans Warn of Civil War at Pool Party Fundraiser for Fake Electors
  • Michigan Advance: Michigan fake electors arraigned in Lansing court
  • Bridge Michigan: Records: Michigan voting machines exchanged at mall, ‘manipulated’ in hotels

Aileen Cannon Made A Doozy Of An Error

The Daily Beast: Inside One ‘Egregious’ Mistake From Trump’s Florida Judge Aileen Cannon

What Happened In the Hunter Biden Case Exactly?

I can tell you what happened, but I’m still puzzling over exactly how we ended up here:

  • After the Hunter Biden plea agreement blew up in court, the parties failed to arrive at a resolution in subsequent negotiations.
  • U.S. Attorney David Weiss, apparently anticipating that he would now have to bring the case against Hunter Biden to trial in a jurisdiction outside of Delaware, asked Attorney General Merrick Garland last Tuesday to confer on him special counsel powers.
  • On Friday, Garland announced he was acceding to Weiss’ request.
  • Soon after, Weiss asked the Delaware federal court to cancel the briefing scheduled in the case because there’s no longer a plea agreement.
  • For his part, Hunter Biden is arguing that there very much was a plea agreement already entered into and binding upon the parties and seems to be making noises about trying to enforce it.

It’s a confused and strange situation, but rest assured that political reporters are seizing on the comfort of false equivalency to compare this to the Trump indictments and tut-tut over the bind this puts Joe Biden in.

Alabama Redistricting Heads Back To Court

A three-federal-judge panel will this week consider Alabama’s latest redistricting map, which rebuffs a Supreme Court order by defiantly drawing a single majority-Black congressional district.

Ammon Bundy Arrested

The far-right provocateur was arrested on an outstanding warrant for contempt of court.

Arkansas Nixes AP African American History

With classes about to start in the new school year, the state of Arkansas reportedly:

  • won’t award credits for the course for credit any longer;
  • won’t pay for the cost of students to take the AP test.

“Teachers were reportedly told they could still offer the class, but the state will not recognize it on the same level as other AP courses,” the Arkansas Times reports.

Maui Death Toll Nears 100

TOPSHOT – An aerial image taken on August 10, 2023 shows destroyed homes and buildings burned to the ground in the historic Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The fire that destroyed historic Lahaina now ranks as the worst in the United States in more than 100 years.

Like Morning Memo? Let us know!

Latest Morning Memo
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: